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Goalie Analysis From Development Camp

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New York Islanders
New York Islanders goaltending prospects Jakub Skarek (left), Henrik Tikkanen (center) & Tristan Lennox (right)

The New York Islanders had three goaltenders attend rookie camp, in Jakub Skarek, Henrik Tikkanen, and Tristan Lennox. Here are our observations, and analysis, along with quotes on the New York Islanders goalie prospects:

Jakub Skarek

Drafted 72nd overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old Jakub Skarek is gearing up for his fourth season with the Bridgeport Islanders. In 2021-22, Skarek played in a career-high 37 games, with an .896 SV% and a 3.30 GAA. Add a shutout to that stats ledger.

Skarek posted a 16-15-4 record. He ‘gave up the fifth most goals in the AHL (116) but made the 12th-most saves (1,120).

The NHL veteran Cory Schneider served as Skarek’s partner and mentor, which helped with his growth.

“I think each year he’s getting more and more confident, more and more comfortable in North America,” Bridgeport Islanders head coach Brent Thompson said. “Last year, he took great strides. Early in the year, he was dominant. He had a great teacher with Schneider and they kind of communicated, had a great relationship. So what they built last year was good for Jakub.”

“And then, you know, now he just seems more confident and more mature.”

Thompson added that each player matures at a different pace and they will take it one step at a time as Skarek progresses.

AHL veteran and NHL hopeful, 27-year-old defenseman Grant Hutton joined Bridgeport a year before Skarek. So if anyone knows Skarek, it’s Hutton. What about Skarek stands out?

“I think first and foremost, it’s his work ethic,” Hutton said. “[He’s] the first guy to the rink every single day. He’s the last guy to leave. And he brings people with him, right? Like you see the work that he’s putting in.”

“He demands the best from himself and that demand makes you demand the best of yourself, as well as his teammates. “He’s such a good kid, and he’s got a big heart and worked so hard, and it’s been fun seeing him grow.”

Notes: Besides the equipment matching that of former Islander Thomas Greiss, they play a similar style. Throughout the drills, Skarek never seemed to panic, controlling his movements as well as his rebounds. He was what you would call steady. At times, he would be a little too far back in his crease, which led to some struggles with screens. He is strong in-tight and very flexible.

Henrik Tikkanen

Ben Bishop, before he retired, was the tallest goaltender in the NHL, standing at 6’7. Well, New York Islanders’ seventh-round pick back in 2020, Henrik Tikkanen, stands at 6’8.

Development camp was the first time Tikkanen took the ice in North America, as he has been playing over in Europe.

This past season, with MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik of the Swedish Hockey League, Tikkanen posted a .903 SV% with a 2.50 GAA in 19 games (13-4-0).

With Skarek and Schneider manning the crease in Bridgeport, Tikkanen will report to the ECHL, as he will fight with Ken Appleby for minutes with the Worcester Railers.

“It’s hard, you look at the net and you see someone so big you don’t see much, right? So it’s a challenge,” Hutton said.

“Guess you just gotta find the spots where to shoot, you know, just find those weaknesses,” Robin Salo said.

Notes: Tikkanen might be tall, but he is slim at just 215 lbs and could use a few pounds to help him take up even more of the net. Despite his height, he gets very low in goal and does a strong job at cutting off the angles on the initial shots. Because of his length, he can make saves that very few goalies can, in desperation. But what he needs to work on his controlling the rebound on the initial shot.

Tristan Lennox

Taking in the third round of the 2021 NHL Draft, 19-year-old Tristan Lennox is likely heading back to the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL for a fourth season.

In 28 games played last season, the Ontario native recorded a 3.20 GAA with an .888 SV%. With a record of 7-20-0, it was not too pretty, as his counterpart Andrew Oak had even worse numbers as Saginaw was the second-worst team in the OHL.

New York Islanders prospect Matthew Maggio grew up playing against Tristan Lennox and shared his strengths:

“He’s always been a highly touted prospect and you can kind of tell why. I mean he’s so patient in the net… I was just talking to him about it, he’s so so calm in there, and he doesn’t really bite,” Maggio shared. “He kind of makes the shooter make the first move and kind of just reads off that, and I think that’s what makes him so good.”

“And he’s a bigger guy too (6’3). He’s potentially so sound. It’s tough to catch him out of position, and I got lucky maybe a few times last year, catching him, but no, I think he’s a great goalie. Obviously, every time I play Saginaw, you know, it’s going to be a tough night to get one by him.”

 

Notes: Lennox is a calm netminder, but has to work on being more aggressive in the crease, especially on odd-man rushes. He does have size and reads the play in front of him rather well. He shuffles with ease to get into position and tracks the puck well, even through screens. Like Tikkanen, he needs to work on his rebound control.

Final Thoughts Courtesy of Grant Hutton

“I think all three of them have been super strong and you can tell they all have good communication with each other, which I think goes a long way for their confidence. Younger guys, I mean, I think they’re just getting a feel for things. I mean, what was that day five today for us? So I think everyone started to feel more comfortable about their game and you get more comfortable with guys on the ice…They start to learn guys’ shooting tendencies and where they like to go. So, you know, the farther we get into camp, I think the more we’ll learn about, you know, the guys in this room and so far, everything’s been good.”

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